back to article US warns aging air-traffic control code won't be fixed until 2030

The aging computer system that was behind the grounding of flights across the US last month will need until 2030 to be fully upgraded, the Federal Aviation Administration said, leaving US government leaders questioning why. On January 11 the FAA grounded all domestic aircraft for the first time since the 2001 terrorist attacks …

  1. Ball boy Silver badge

    Mission critical components

    NOTAM goes down and US aviation is grounded - so it's clearly a mission-critical application.

    One change is that maintenance will now require two employees to be deployed. Good idea, I'm surprised the FAA hadn't already mandated peer-reviewed work for important jobs like this.

    Perhaps now would be a good time to ask what, if any, other mission critical systems under their care still allow maintenance to be carried out by an individual working alone - and who signed-off on the risk assessment that allows it!

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: who signed-off on the risk assessment that allows it

      I don't see that witchhunting is very useful here. Getting the corrections in and reviewing the procedures is.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Mission critical components

      The NOTAMs that get issued most often are notifying people of TFAs -- areas there you can't fly because of something or another. That 'something or another' is invariably a VIP movement so it needs to close down all general aviation (and R/C model) aviation inside a 35 nautical mile radius. National Security is at stake and nothing, absolutely nothing, is as important as clearing the airspace for our politicians (and the occasional NFL game).

      This is what was galling about the recent outage. Natural disasters like volcanoes erupting that might be a danger to aviation don't happen that often and when they do they tend to make the national news. So the loss of the NOTAM system for 12-24 hours won't cause too much of a problem. When it comes to National Security -- or, specifically, the security of anyone in government important enough to be able to cause one to be issued -- then there's nothing more important. The rest of us plebs can just sit around and wait.

      (I'm pretty sure that could do the job of distributing these notices and do it far cheaper and more reliably than some home-made system.)(Especially as it doesn't require reliable delivery. Its your responsibility to make sure that you're aware of all current NOTAMS --- not receiving one is not an allowable excuse for violating whatever you violated.)

      1. Marty McFly Silver badge

        Re: Mission critical components

        I disagree to a certain extent.

        No-fly zones for national security reasons do not harm aircraft, their crews, or their passengers. No body falls out of the sky. Of course, there are severe consequences to face upon landing, but everyone walks away. A few F-16s may be scrambled, and as long as the questionable aircraft obeys their directions everyone will land safely.

        NOTAMs about airport activities are far more important to aircraft, crews, and passengers. For example, "Runway 13R is closed for maintenance, don't land there because you will hit a dump truck". Failure to adhere to that NOTAM can be deadly.

        POTUS & the associated no-fly zone will only be one place at a time, and will not appear unexpectedly. But multiple airports could have runway maintenance issues, and they could be published short notice. That is what pilots really look for on NOTAMs.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Mission critical components

          > National Security is at stake

          Surely this puts National Security at risk ?

          Dear everyone, the president will be flying along this course at this time, have your 2nd amendment MANPADS ready.

          Yes it only gives a 25mi radius but if the 25mi radius path starts and ends at a city you can probably narrow it down to an airport

  2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    It'll Be Soooo Cooool ... When We Add A.I.!

    Adding A.I. (though truly, it will be pseudo-A.I.) to NOTAMS is a distraction, an excuse for delay, and perhaps another pork-barrel project. NOTAMS does not need any sort of A.I. to filter irrelevant-to-the-pilot's-flight NOTAMS. Visit the current NOTAMS website at

    and see for yourself.

    1. redpawn

      Re: It'll Be Soooo Cooool ... When We Add A.I.!

      You forgot the ever important BlockChain! component.

      1. Lost Neutrino

        Re: It'll Be Soooo Cooool ... When We Add A.I.!

        And every NOTAM will be a Non-Fungible Token, or NFT. Ah yes, Web 3.0 all over again.

    2. Anonymous Cow-Pilot

      Re: It'll Be Soooo Cooool ... When We Add A.I.!

      The NOTAM system doesn't need AI to sift out junk, because us pilots already have access to tools that present only the NOTAMs relevant to the route we select. Pretty much every flight management computer and GA route planning app can do that already. There are also websites that will do it very quickly. It also does not need AI - the problem to be solved is a simple geospacial one - show all the NOTAMs within X nautical miles of the route you are planning on flying, plus any global ones (which we are legally obliged to check for every flight).

    3. William K Kelley

      Re: It'll Be Soooo Cooool ... When We Add A.I.!

      Getting rid of the irrelevant NOTAMs is helpful -- making the remaining NOTAMs more easily understandable would be far more useful. Most NOTAMs use four times as many words as necessary; they need to be far more succinct! If you go to the NOTAM website you'll see what I mean... It's hard to avoid you're eyes from glazing over after reading the first few.

  3. SnOOpy168

    Well, that means that folks at FAA or related sub agencies & sub contractors, will get to keep their jobs for another decade or more. Until their retirement that is.

    Meanwhile, other countries with substantial air traffic like LHR, AMS, SIN, HKG, DXB, DOH etc. What system are they using, their uptime and upkeeping workflow. Will the mighty US of A send delegations to study them and perhaps leapfrog the incumbents ?

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      With a bit of luck (and some serious studying) the mighty US of A can leapfrog the system at Tristan da Cunha.

  4. PeterM42

    ".........modernization is planned to be completed in 2030"

    By which time it will be out-of-date............

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